How to become a Forensic Computer Analyst
What is a Forensic Computer Analyst?
A Forensic Computer Analyst (or Forensic Computer Investigator) works with law enforcement and private entities to identify systems and networks which have been compromised from criminal breaches and exploits. The Forensic Computer Analyst is expected to have a vast knowledge of hardware, several programming languages, networking and encryption methodology in order to gather and analyze criminal activity.
What is the Average Salary?
According to Payscale.com, the lowest end salary will be around $40,967 and the highest will be $120,601, making the median around $68,671.
What are a Forensic Computer Analyst’s Responsibilities?
Forensic Computer Analyst’s responsibilities are fairly straight forward, though extensive in knowledge required for the job. Two of the most unique responsibilities expected of a forensic computer analyst are that 1. They are often required to work full-time on-call, meaning they need to be available by phone call at any hour of the night, day or weekend; 2. Forensic Computer Analysts need to be able to stomach graphic, lude and violent imagery as part of their everyday experience on the job. Aside from these job role quirks, here’s a list of technical responsibilities required for the role:
- Conducting forensics on exploitation processes
- Conducting imaging and data extraction processes on a variety of media
- Provides testing and evaluation of emerging trends
- Conduct peer reviews of other examiners’ reporting
- Track down files/information which has been hidden deleted or lost
- Analyze data and evaluate its relevance to a case under investigation
- Transfer evidence into a format used for legal purposes
- Provide training and mentoring for team members
What Educational Background is required?
While I did come across one listing that only called for two years of experience, most listings asked for a BS in computer science or a minimum of 5 years of Digital Forensic experience along with a laundry list of other required experience. Some such required experience includes experience with digital forensics tools; Microsoft, Apple and Linux operating systems; Forensic Analysis of compromised systems; technical report writing; and more.
What Certifications should I take?
Some listings call for a Law Enforcement Data Systems (LEDS) Certification, but many will provide such training on the job. Other certifications to give you needed expertise and competitive edge include:
Where should I start?
Starting with a Bachelor’s degree is a great way to build your knowledge base and begin networking. Experience is key here, so start your formal education, add certifications to your resume, but be sure to find networks and gather as much real-world experience as possible.
Forensic Computer Analyst not for you? Learn how to become a Network Security Administrator here!
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